Strong storms are a fact of life during at least one season out of the year throughout most of North America.
In the north, it might be blizzards or ice storms; the south gets hurricanes and tornadoes; the west gets blizzards and high winds; Tornado Alley in the US gets, well, tornadoes; the eastern seaboard gets all of the above.
All that bad weather means is that no matter where you live, roof damage is a real possibility. Because of that, it pays to know the process of repairing that roof damage, including the roof’s storm damage inspection.
Here is what you can expect when during your storm damage roof inspection.
1. Surveying the Property
Roof damage does not typically happen in isolation. If you have shingle damage, chances are you also damage the building and surrounding property.
For example, a wind that rips shingles off the roof probably damaged a tree or bushes. Likewise, a lot of structural damage to the property could mean you sustained damage to shingles, flashing, and even underlayment on a roof. Plus, looking around a property for damage can give an inspector a sense of where to start looking on your roof if the damage is not apparent.
An inspector will survey the building and area where roof damage might have occurred. They will look at:
- Damage to windows, window screens, and the side of the building
- Damage from falling debris to heat pumps and AC units
- Shingles, flashing, and other roof parts on the ground
- Adjacent trees for branch damage
- Dents, rips, and gouges on the siding of a building
- Shingle granular matter that washed out of downspouts
- Dents on downspouts from flying debris
2. Gutter Damage
Once they look at the related or possibly related damage to the surrounding property, the roofing inspector will look at your gutters. They will look for any evidence of damage from flying debris, falling debris like branches, parts of the gutter that are misshapen, dings and dents on the gutters themselves, and ripped stripping that used to affix gutters to housing.
Another step when inspecting gutters that your inspector will take is to look for shingle granules. These fall off when the shingle is damaged, especially if the shingle rips or is bent. They will wash out by rain into the gutter, where they will collect on the bottom.
An inspector deciding if your roof needs replacement will also look in gutters and at the end of downspouts for granular presence. While storm damage will cause granules to break off, regular age and wear and tear over time will cause the same buildup in your gutters and below downspouts.
The good news is that you may not have damage as much as a roof that needs replacing.
3. Examine the Shingles
No roof inspection is complete without a closeup of the shingles. Shingles can take a beating and remain intact, so when a particularly bad wind or storm comes through, damage to a shingle can only mean one of two things:
- There is deeper damage to the roof
- The roof is old and needs repair or replacement
Those are the two options. If a shingle on your roof is damaged, it either happened during the storm, was about to happen because of wear or tear, or happened before the storm because of age. What the inspector looks for can vary.
4. Wind Damage
The inspector will look for missing, bent, ripped, and creased shingles. They will also look at areas where the roof is creased and examine shingles that abut roofing parts like house siding, chimneys, and vents. Specifically, they look for gaps in shingles or areas where exposure of the underlayment may occur.
Wind does its damage almost exclusively by getting under part of a shingle, so the inspector will also look for evidence of shingles that were lifted but did not break. In the case of lifted shingles, the point where the wind got under them is part of the damage.
In addition, the damage may extend further than that initial lift point and have ripped shingles further along in a line of shingles.
Sometimes that damage can extend several feet under the shingles or have damaged shingles along their edges. The attached shingles might be damaged and need repair or replacement in those cases.
If the inspector finds an indication of damage on a roof’s shingles, they will try and track the extent of the damage. From there, they can determine if repairing the roof is possible by patching or if an entire replacement for part of the whole of the roof is appropriate.
As the homeowner, you can assume that the roof repair will be extensive if there is shingle damage beyond one or two.
5. Hail Damage
Hail can do a lot of damage to anything it falls on if the hail is large enough. There have been reports of hail as large as softballs, which, you can imagine, wreaks havoc on anything or anyone it strikes. Roofs are giant targets for falling objects, which is why frisbees land on them, and hail can break them apart.
During the detailed roof inspection, the inspector will look for dented shingles or if granular pieces have broken off. They will also look for evidence of hail damage on flashing and any other flat part of a roof.
There might be extensive damage underneath the shingles if the damage is evident.
While hail damage may not look like much, it can indicate a much larger problem. The most serious is if your underlayment sustains damage as that can lead to leaking, which can worsen if water can get into the punctured part and pool and then freeze in the winter.
Usually, hail damage is an automatic replacement if the damage is significant enough.
6. Flashing and Vents
Flashing and vents can sustain damage from hail, falling debris, and wind. The most obvious is usually hail, and the inspector will look at both to determine if they have got damaged by falling hail.
When performing the storm damage roof inspection, a good roof inspector will investigate further on the roof if vent or flashing damage is present, as it almost always means more significant damage is located somewhere on the roof.
Flashing and vent damage may not warrant an insurance claim but must be repaired or replaced as soon as possible. Not doing so can create openings for water to leak, pool, freeze and even serve as the catalyst for mold and mildew. In some cases, damaged flashing can leak into a home, allowing water to get under the rest of the roof.
7. Seam Damage
Anywhere your home has siding that runs up to the roof’s edge, there is the potential for damage. If damage occurs to that part of the roof, leaking into the home can occur as those seams usually extend beneath the roof. It creates an avenue for water travel, which can manifest far away from the actual leak.
Damage to the seam where shingles run up to a roof is usually covered by flashing, but the seam is vulnerable if the flashing is damaged.
Your roof inspector will review every inch of any seams to determine if the roof is damaged and if the damage penetrated beneath the flashing or shingle covering.
Seam damage can also occur in skylights. If a skylight is damaged, you may not need to replace it, but you must address the damage, or it is almost a given you will have leakage issues. A leaking skylight can damage everything from the roof to the floor below it, including destroying drywall and carpeting.
8. Puncture Damage
Sometimes a roof is punctured into the top floor of the building. A breach like that can happen if a branch or tree falls on it. The damage might be obvious when that happens, but the inspector still needs to document what happened.
They do this for insurance purposes as an insurance company usually relies on the inspector’s documentation to verify the extent of the damage.
A total replacement is in order, with a puncture in almost every case. Not doing so can result in other damaged areas of the roof growing in severity with time. Even a small puncture can create problems in the roof that only grow significantly as time passes.
In the worst-case scenario, not addressing puncture damage can lead to the actual rotting of any part of the roof exposed to the elements.
As mentioned, the inspector will document any damage they identify during their roof inspection. The documentation includes damage that warrants a full replacement and any repairable damage.
Additionally, the inspector will document the damage for an insurance company and if you plan on paying for repairs out of pocket.
The inspector will take pictures of the damage and provide a written summary of what they found. Both will serve as the foundation for any claim of repair or replacement.
Your roof can be damaged in any number of ways during a storm. Ignoring the damage can cause you great problems down the line.
Getting it officially inspected by a roofing professional is vital to preserve your home and provide any insurance claim proof that what you say happened did occur to the extent you claim.